Monday, May 18, 2009

1992 Expansion Draft Revisited via WezenBall

Lar at Wezen-Ball was good enough to send this my way. This was his Baseball Prospectus "Baseball Prospectus Idol" submission. Bummer for Lar that he's not a finalist, but I sure did enjoy his stab at glory:

It's now been over 15 years since this draft took place and, with the benefit of hindsight, we can easily say what moves would and wouldn’t have worked out. What is difficult, though, is saying exactly how that draft should have gone. Considering the rules of the draft (only one player drafted per existing club per round, the initial 15 protected players, etc.) and the secret nature of "protected player" lists, there's a little more to it than saying "Man, the Marlins should've drafted Pedro in '93!" or "The Rockies should've taken Manny!"

What is the internet good for, though, if we can't take the time to figure this out ourselves? So I did just that. Using the expansion draft rules as explained on Wikipedia, a list of active rosters from 1992 and 1993 from Retrosheet, and a "leaked" list of the protected players published in the November 13, 1992, issue of USA Today, I set about running the "perfect" draft. Instead of each team always choosing the best player available at the given draft spot, the teams would choose the player who would best fit in on that particular club. It was also important to consider the limitations of the draft when making these choices so that both teams could get the best possible lineup available. Finally, I only did the first round of the draft, since it was hard enough making those 26 picks in the first place. I also allowed each team to sign a couple of free agents, though I limited signings to players who I judged might be willing to move to an expansion city. Maybe it's arbitrary, but it seemed necessary since there was no way that Greg Maddux or Barry Bonds or Kirby Puckett would ever have landed in Colorado or Florida. A list of available free agents was compiled using Retrosheet's transactions database.
Say what you will, but Lar is nothing if not thorough. Great stuff if you're into digging into the nostalgia!

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